Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thank you, Tall Oaks!

It used to be that every time I went on a road trip, I would take my dog, Chewbacca (aka “Chewie”) along with me. Of course, this compromised our lodging wherever it was we went, but I love this dog like I love my own child, and I just couldn’t bear to leave him behind.

That was until traveling WITHOUT my dog was a requirement. That meant figuring out what to do about Chewie. On our first trip away from home, I asked a friend if his teenage son could come over each day to feed Chewie and let him outside to go to the bathroom, but that didn’t work out very well. The friend's son ended up just leaving my backdoor open the entire time we were gone and pouring out a ginormous amount of dog food for Chewie to eat from. The second time we had to leave town, we hired a dogsitter to come into our home and feed the dogs and let them out to use the bathroom. (This was during a time I was petsitting, so there were two dogs.) This situation worked out much better.

On the other hand, for our recent trip to St. Louis, we didn’t hire the dogsitter this time around. I don’t know why my husband didn’t suggest her, as she was a lovely person who did such a good job of caring for the dogs, but this time he suggested a kennel. I thought of my friend (and Jesse’s preschool teacher) Kim, since she’s a dog owner herself, but my husband really pushed the kennel idea.

The idea of leaving my little buddy at a dog kennel filled me with dread. I’d heard so many horror stories of animals being abused and neglected at dog kennels. I didn’t want to chance putting Chewie into that situation. But I calmed my fears by just telling myself I would be thorough in my search for a kennel and personally check out the premises. I have a strong intuition with people, so I would also pay attention to what kind of vibes I pick up from them.

I passed over a bunch of kennels that just didn’t seem right and settled on one that did: Tall Oaks Dog Resort. The “resort” idea made me think: EXPENSIVE! But I checked their rates and it seemed really fair. I explored the web site and liked what I saw. Saw some good comments about this place. Everything looked good so far.

One problem, though: I didn’t have Chewie’s shot records. I lost them in the move from California to Oregon. I debated whether or not I’d have any success in placing Chewie with this kennel.

Still, I thought, it wouldn’t hurt to give them a try.

So I called them up, hoping whoever answered didn’t wig out over a relay call. (Sadly, a lot of hearing people still don’t get it that the deaf must use relay to make phone calls to them. I have had the lovely experience of a lot of hearing people thinking relay was a scam and hanging up before I could get a word in edgewise.) Fortunately, the lady who answered, Heather, had no problem accepting my relay call. She was very friendly and helpful as we talked on the phone. I explained the situation with Chewie’s shot records and she said it was no problem, we could try to get a copy from his last vet in California. (He didn’t have one in Oregon at this time.) So I called Eldorado Animal Hospital in Palm Desert, CA, and asked about Chewie’s shot records. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any shot records for Chewie on file, only for my other dog (who died in 2001). I could only shake my head. How could they NOT have his shot records?? Good grief! Well, it was what it was. So I called Heather back and explained the situation. She suggested I take Chewie to a veterinarian business they use and get him updated on the essential shots. Fortunately, the vet was able to see him that same day, Chewie got his shots, and everything was all set.

My daughter accompanied me on this errand. Before I could visit the kennel, however, I had to get Chewie some dog food from the store. We also took a favorite pillow he likes to sleep on. When we arrived, I immediately had a good feeling about the place. It’s out in the country with LOTS of room for animals to romp and explore. The entire front of the house is animal-friendly and there was even a sign on the door alerting visitors that a delay in answering might mean the owners were busy with the animals. The owners, Heather and Frank, were very friendly and welcomed us with smiles and enthusiasm. I held my breath on how Chewie would react to them, knowing he barks at strangers a lot, but he actually didn’t bark at them at all. Good sign! He immediately took to Frank, and I smiled as I noted how comfortable Chewie seemed as he sat on Frank’s lap. The kennel was like a second home to him.

There were good vibes all around so I agreed to leave Chewie with them. I’ll have to admit that I cried a little on my way back home. I’ve had Chewie ever since he was a puppy, and especially after learning he has a heart condition, he means even more to me than ever. But we had important business ahead. We had to travel to St. Louis to be with my mother. I had to focus on that.

And, at the same time, knowing he was being taken care of while we were away was a big weight off of my shoulders. It allowed me to enjoy our trip and focus my energies on my mother.

While in St. Louis, I received occasional updates from Tall Oaks on Chewie’s progress. I was glad to know he was doing well. And relieved that I left information with them on how to reach me on my cell phone since I hardly had any Internet access while away.

When we returned to Eugene, Oregon, I was very eager to get Chewie back into my arms. I missed my little C-Dawg. When I picked him up, he appeared just as clean, healthy and content as he had been when I left him. He kept staying by my side, and I could tell he missed me, too. I allowed him time to explore the yard a little before we left. It was so good to see my dog again and bring him home.

Thank you, Heather and Frank, for taking care of my dog while we were away. It was definitely one less worry for us and it helped knowing that Chewie was doing just fine while we were away. We’ll definitely bring him by for an occasional visit and be sure to recommend you to all of our friends.

And of course, after we got home with Chewie, I spoiled him like crazy. Gave him treats, lots of love and hugs, bought him fancy dog food and a brand new bed.

(To see a picture of Chewie on their web site, go here


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